• Vol. 32 No. 5, 638–641
  • 15 September 2003

Audit of ‘Crash’ Emergency Caesarean Sections Due to Cord Prolapse in Terms of Response Time and Perinatal Outcome

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ABSTRACT

Objective: The objective was to audit ‘crash’ emergency caesarean sections (CS) with respect to response time (the diagnosis to delivery interval [DDI]) and perinatal outcome.

Materials and Methods: The computerised database at the Singapore General Hospital (SGH) delivery suite was used to identify all cases of ‘crash’ emergency CS activated for the diagnosis of cord prolapse from 1992 to 2002. Patients’ case notes and neonatal charts were reviewed and the following variables were evaluated: parity, gestational age at the time of delivery and the DDI. Neonatal outcome was measured by Apgar scores at 1 and 5 minutes, cord pH and admission to the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU).

Results: A total of 34 cases of umbilical cord prolapse were identified from 29,867 deliveries, giving an incidence of 0.11% (1 in 900). The median gestational age was 38.5 weeks (range, 25 to 41 weeks). The median time from diagnosis to delivery was 20 minutes (range, 10 to 40 minutes). Seventy-six percent (19/30) were delivered within 30 minutes. The time of diagnosis was not recorded for 5 cases. Sixty-three percent of neonates had an Apgar score <7 at 1 minute of life, increasing to 97% at 5 minutes. There were 3 NICU admissions for reasons of prematurity. There was no perinatal mortality. Cord pH was not performed for 47% of (14/30) neonates. Among the remaining 16 neonates, an umbilical cord pH of <7.20 was found in 62% (10/16). There was poor correlation between the DDI and umbilical cord pH.

Conclusion: Three-quarters of our ‘crash’ emergency CS for cord prolapse were performed within 30 minutes with a good perinatal outcome. However, we have identified areas for improvement to optimise further the operational efficiency of ‘crash’ emergency CS.


Umbilical cord prolapse is an uncommon intrapartum event with a reported incidence of 1 in 160 to 714 deliveries. Predisposing factors include fetal malpresentation, prematurity, small fetal size, multiple gestation, polyhydramnios and membranes rupture prior to head engagement.

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